Shaping a passion

Retirement finally gave Katy Bevill time to learn sculpting

You know you’re near Katy Bevill’s apartment when you see the delicate, detailed figures that decorate her doorway. They’re Katy’s own creations, sculpted in clay and hand-painted.

Katy learned to sculpt after she retired from a 38-year career as a kindergarten teacher in Wichita. “It’s been a wonderful hobby for me,” she said. “I always wanted to do it but I didn’t have the time.”

Through the 1990s, Katy took classes with well-known local artist Babs Mellor at the Arkansas Avenue senior center.

She didn’t want to deal with marketing her artwork, so Katy has given away quite a bit of her tabletop sculptures. She became well-known for creating likenesses of people’s grandchildren and sometimes even their pets. From an enlarged photo, she did her best to capture their images in three dimensions.

“I just made hundreds of grandchildren sculptures. I’ve got sculptures all over in somebody’s home,” Katy said.

One of her favorite projects was done for her neighbors, who had three children. The oldest daughter was depicted reading a book in a pretty dress. She sculpted the middle child in his favorite cowboy boots, vest and hat. The littlest, who was 3, was posed sitting on a big rock at Botanica. The set could be displayed together and also separated so the children could take their own statues when they got older.

“That was one of my biggest and most fun,” Katy said. Later she made a second sculpture of the youngest boy, which she kept. Katy included that one in an exhibit of her work at the Wichita Center for the Arts (now known as Mark Arts).

This holiday season it was a treat to see Katy’s own Nativity Set and Christmas Angel by her apartment door. The nativity includes intricate sculptures of Joseph, Mary holding baby Jesus, and some woolly sheep. She even had a special stained-glass backdrop made to bring it all together. The Christmas Angel was inspired by an article she had seen in Smithsonian Magazine. She chose a very difficult pose to sculpt the angel, but the outcome is amazing.

Be sure to look for Katy’s work in this year’s Art is Ageless exhibit – she’s planning to enter two pieces, and we can’t wait to see them!

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